Uruguay 0 Senegal 2, Great Britain 3 UAE 1 (29th July 2012)
The Olympics Football has struggled for credibility more than most events in London 2012, but at Wembley at least enthusiasm is still high. Maybe other cities grumbled about having “London 2012” logos put up in their city, but at Wembley and re-branding would be a bonus. Wembley Stadium, from the outside, usually has all the charm of a conference centre, but the large logos and colours of the games plastered all over the outside made a welcome change from its usual steel and glass sterility.
The first game of the day saw Uruguay take on Senegal. With Uruguay having the booed-at-every-touch Luis Suarez in their side, it wouldn’t take much for Senegal to get a bit of backing from the crowd. To much delight Senegal took an early lead, with Moussa Konaté tapping in following a save from a corner. He ran off to do a jig in the corner – perhaps the most ungainly bit of dancing on a pitch since David Pleat’s dancing run at Maine Road.
It was needed too, as the atmosphere had been almost non-existent. 50,000 or so in at the time, and you could hear the players shouting to each other. Suarez did little to increase his popularity by being happy to be brought down for a professional foul when running towards goal. While some of Uruguay’s antics in this tournament have had people wondering if they thought they were competing against Tom Daley in the aquatics centre in the main park, this was a foul, although a red card seemed a bit harsh.
Never fear though, as another corner ten minutes later lead to a second Senegal goal, with Moussa Konaté putting the ball into the same corner of the net, and running into the corner for the same little jig.
The main event for the evening was the GB v UAE clash, with a slightly high looking 85,000 apparently in for the clash. Patriotic fervour aside, the crowd were a little stumped as what to sing for Great Britain. It somehow doesn’t sit right for football. One fan stood on his own trying to bash out a slightly drunken and very angry rendition of “Rule Britannia”, slapping his chest with almost criminal violence, unable to understand why others didn’t join in.
After 20 minutes the Wembley crowd were able to take the unique step of cheering a home goal by a non-English player, with Ryan Giggs heading in a cross to the far post. UAE threatened to spoil the party with a surprise equaliser on the hour, leading to a very dodgy few minutes when UAE looked the more likely team to add a second. Two quick goals with around a quarter of an hour left changed it all though, giving GB a pipe and slippers level of comfort for the closing stages. If only the train journey home could have been as comfortable.